Preps Talk

Edgy Tim: Who are the leading candidates for Offensive Player of the Year?

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Edgy Tim: Who are the leading candidates for Offensive Player of the Year?

With four weeks of IHSA football in the books, let's take a look at some of my early candidates for Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Chicagoland area (in no particular order):

Homewood-Flossmoor RB Justin Hall (Sr.): The NIU verbal commit was able to showcase his ability last Friday to a live TV audience in the Vikings' 48-20 win over Bolingbrook (3-1). Hall, who is averaging 9.5 yards per carry so far for the 4-0 Vikings, is able to break tackles, has exceptional speed and remains one of the most versatile (RB/WR/DB/KR/PR) athletes in the state. 

Prairie Ridge QB Samson Evans (Sr.): Evans, who is verbally committed to Iowa, runs the option offense for the 4-0 Wolves. He remains the focal point of every opposing defense this season. Evans is averaging nearly nine yards per carry, an almost unheard-of number for an option-running quarterback. 

Lake Zurich RB/LB Joey Stutzman (Sr.): Stutzman (5-foot-7, 170 pounds) is, pound for pound, one of the toughest players you'll find in Chicagoland this season. Stutzman gives the Bears' offense a big play threat on every carry. He is also a key cog on a nasty defensive unit that has allowed just 16 points in four games.

Loyola Academy QB Quinn Boyle (Sr.): Boyle has quickly developed into the Ramblers' main weapon so far this season and has been very strong leading Loyola's shotgun read-option offense. Boyle's running ability along with his accurate arm has allowed a banged-up Ramblers running attack time to heal up early this season. 

[MORE: Week Five Power Rankings]

Maine South RB Fotis Kokosioulis (Sr.): Kokosioulis has been one of the most productive players in Illinois over the past two-plus seasons for the defending 8A state champion Hawks. Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar, whose team was able to limit Kokosioulis' yards in the Griffins' 28-26 win in Week 2 admitted, "We definitely had to find a way of slowing down number 41 (Kokosioulis) because he's a tremendous high school player."

Lincoln-Way East QB Brendan Morrissey (Sr.): The Griffins are undoubtedly one of Chicagoland's deepest teams. A number of players from their roster could be considered for Player of the Year. But Morrissey, a concerted running back from a season ago, has run the LW-East offense with a mix of poise, confidence and accuracy in the play-action passing game. 

Crete-Monee QB Isaiah Rucker (Sr.): Rucker is the old, savvy veteran of the Warriors offense this season. He's a rare four-year varsity contributor and three-year starter. Rucker has thrown for nearly 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 64 percent completion percentage so far in 2017. He remains Crete's unquestioned leader.

Naperville North QB Drake Davis (Sr.): Davis, who transferred in last spring from 1A Bureau Valley, has been electric since midway through the Huskies' stunning come from behind opening week 53-49 win over Edwardsville. Davis has thrown for 1,212 yards and 14 touchdowns so far this season.

Naperville Central QB Payton Thorne (Jr.): Thorne, who transferred into Naperville Central from Metea Valley this summer, has added a big boost to an already strong Redhawks team. Thorne, who is the son of North Central College head coach Jeff Thorne, has a combined 1,061 yards of total offense and 15 touchdowns through four games.

Phillips RB/LB Craig Elmore (Sr.): The Wildcats' defensive unit has been just as solid as their offensive counterparts so far this fall. Elmore, who plays both running back and linebacker, has played huge roles in big games on both sides of the football. He is gaining the tough yards as well as breaking big runs when needed. 

33 Days to Kickoff: Benet

33 Days to Kickoff: Benet

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Benet Academy

Head coach: Pat New

How they fared in 2017: 9-4 (5-2 East Suburban Catholic Conference). Benet Academy made the Class 7A state playoff field. They defeated Maine West, Hononegah and Lincoln-Way Central before losing to Batavia in the state semifinal round. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ St. Laurence

Aug. 31 @ Moline

Sept. 7 @ St. Patrick

Sept. 14 vs Niles Notre Dame

Sept. 21 vs Nazareth Academy

Sept. 28 @ Joliet Catholic

Oct. 5 vs St. Viator

Oct. 13 @ Marian Catholic

Oct. 19 vs Marist

[MORE: 78 Days to Kickoff - St. Patrick]

Biggest storyline: After back-to-back state semifinal playoff runs, can the Redwings pick things up right where they left off and another make deep playoff run?

Names to watch this season: QB Collin Gillespie and RB/S Ben Hickey

Biggest holes to fill: While the Redwings will welcome back some key starters from a season ago, they will need to reload a bit up front on both the offensive and defensive line. 

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Pat New's Redwings had an early 14-0 lead over eventual 7A state champion Batavia before falling to the Bulldogs. Benet, who has 50 program wins since 2012 (all playoff seasons), is never short on talent. Look for their offensive skills department to carry the load early this season. The Redwings should challenge in the East Suburban Catholic Conference race and into playoff time come October. 

34 Days to Kickoff: Bartlett

34 Days to Kickoff: Bartlett

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Bartlett

Head coach: Mark Erlenbaugh

How they fared in 2017: 2-7 (2-3 Upstate 8 Valley Conference), Bartlett failed to qualify for the 20127 IHSA state football playoff field.

2018 regular season schedule:

Aug. 24 @ East Aurora

Aug. 31 vs Glenbard East

Sept. 7 vs Glenbard South

Sept. 14 @ Elgin

Sept. 21 @ West Aurora

Sept. 28 vs West Chicago

Oct. 5 vs Larkin

Oct. 13 @ South Elgin 

Oct. 19 @ Streamwood

[MORE: 53 Days to Kickoff - Glenbard East]

Biggest storyline: Can the Hawks soar in the newly realigned Upstate 8 conference?

Names to watch this season: QB Dean Kotsovetis and WR Austin Gates

Biggest holes to fill: The Hawks will need to fill in several spots this summer especially upfront on the offensive and defensive lines due to graduation losses.

EDGY's Early Take: Bartlett head coach Matt Erlenbaugh comes in from Chicago's Solorio High School and takes over the Hawks football program. Look for Bartlett to have a chance to challenge in the newly-realigned Upstate Eight schedule. The Hawks schedule this season won't include the likes of several 2017 state playoff teams like Lemont, Prairie Ridge and St. Charles East.